The list may not be as long here as it is with other fabric types. That lack of mesh fabrics is due more to the limited number of applications mesh has to work with. Many people call cargo and fishing nets mesh fabrics and mesh materials was not used for clothing until the end of the 19th century
This is a category of fabrics where they may be more sub-categories than primary mesh divisions. There is one list naming 5 main categories-- polyester mesh, mesh netting, tulle, power mesh, and nylon mesh. Anything else may be a sub-category of those 5.
To learn more about the different mesh fabrics, just continue to read our article, it has the information you want to know about. Take a few minutes to see if this fabric category has types that will fit your upcoming sewing projects
While people point to the end of the 1800s as the start of mesh fabrics, this material has been around for thousands of years. It just was not used in clothing up until Lewis Haslam began using it for clothing material.
Before that era, mesh materials were used for all types of nets as well as hammocks. Mr. Haslam got the idea of using mesh material when he asked her why she wore gloves with holes in them.
His aunt replied that her hands were still warm even with the holes, so he decided to experiment with loose knitted materials. When he found that these materials could be used in clothing, he founded the company Aertex which was the first company to make mesh fabrics for clothing.
The fabric option became very popular and even MTV hosts, etc., started wearing the material. Adidas was not far behind and in the 80s started using mesh fabrics for its products. Soon after, other companies jumped on the bandwagon, and mesh is used in a lot of clothing and footwear items.
Mesh is a loosely knitted type of fabric that has gone several development changes over the years. Now it is seen as an open hole material woven in a grid-shaped style. That design has made the material very versatile.
The source fibers for this fabric style are usually polyester or nylon. You may find some natural fibers in some netting, veils, and other clothing accessories but those are few and far between
In other words, mesh fabrics are made almost totally from synthetic fibers making it a synthetic fabric. There are exceptions to the rule but most people will only find the synthetic versions in their go-to fabric outlets.
The processing style depends on which synthetic fiber is being used to create the mesh fabric. The polyester process has more modern and better technological equipment to process its fibers into mesh material than nylon has.
But petroleum products are the source for both styles of fibers and from which polyamide monomers are extracted from the oil then combined with certain acids to create the different fibers used to create mesh fabric.
Don’t forget that the color is added to the ingredients long before those monomers are spun into fibers. making it very difficult to change the color of these materials.
Mesh is a very versatile material that has a variety of applications. These applications are being explored more and more and new ones are added to the list all the time. There are 5 main categories of mesh materials and they are as follows:
1. polyester mesh- as the name indicates, this style is made from polyester fibers and can come n a variety of colors. It is used often as side panels for athletic wear. The fabric is very breathable and can wick away moisture during your athletic events.
Also, the material is used as overlays for different gowns. Layering makes the fabric discreet and modest.
2. Mesh netting- you will find this fabric used more in outdoor equipment and gear where certain insects need to be kept away from the body. It too is a breathable fabric and is often used in all sorts of bags where airflow is needed. The material works for some dress styles as well.
3. Tulle- a fine mesh fabric that you will find on wedding veils along with enhancing the look of a nice wedding dress. Plus, it works as a decorative touch for floral arrangements, wedding favors, evening gowns, lingerie, costumes, hats, and more. Tulle has been used for over 300 years in the fashion industry.
4. Power mesh- this mesh option is used more for those clothing items that are designed to add top support to the body. Those clothing items are usually intimate feminine products like in-line bras, in-line panties, control to pantyhose, and similar products.
Also, this version of mesh can be found in those undershirts that help men control the look of their stomachs. This fabric is very breathable and comfortable to wear.
5. Nylon mesh- this fabric option has more of a commercial or industrial use than fashion apparel applications. You will find it in bee-keeping veils, birdcage covers, screen material for campers and tents as well as laundry bags, and so on.
This is a long-lasting material but it can get torn and worn down over time.
For nylon and possibly polyester mesh, the softest option would be the standard version of netting. Since some netting material only has two applications, standard, and petticoat, this is the preferred style when one wants to move like normal and be comfortable at the same time.
The petticoat netting is stiffer and works best when made into actual petticoats and tutus. The softest netting mesh you can find will be made from silk but that may be a bit expensive for some people.
Polyester has different qualities of softness going from soft to coarse depending on how it was made. There may be some sub-categories that have very soft mesh material, for example, fishnet.
But for the most part, the strength of the material is what takes priority over softness when advertising this fabric option. Maline may be another example of soft mesh as it is made from very fine fibers.
French and Russian net is said to be very coarse material and usually, both are used in accessories like hats and not key fabric areas of a dress. Crinoline is the stiff material used in making petticoats and it is layered to add a nice full effect to the dress or gown over top of it.
The lifespan of any mesh fabric will depend on a variety of fabrics. How the fibers were spun, their quality, and the size of the material or holes. Many mesh options are very durable and should last a long time.
Another factor in how long the material will last will be in how you treat the fabric. If it is treated in a rough, harsh manner do not expect the mesh to stick around. However, if you treat it well and take care of it, the material should last under normal use.
Mesh netting may be stronger than other mesh fabrics so you might see more durability in those mesh options. When made for industrial purposes, you may find the mesh lasting a lot longer than those options made for clothing or fashion accessories.
The other main priority of mesh makers is the breathability factor. That is just as important as durability. If people cannot breathe while wearing this material, they may opt to buy some other material that keeps them cooler.
Mesh does a great job of allowing good airflow so that you don't overheat no matter what activity you are participating in.
The question of being waterproof or not is a complicated subject. Some people tend to confuse waterproof and water-resistant thinking they are the same thing. They are no and when a fabric is water-resistant, it is not waterproof.
Polyester and nylon in their basic forms are water resistant not waterproof fibers. They may wick away moisture but at some point, they will get saturated with moisture and let you get wet.
To get these fibers to be waterproof, the makers of the mesh materials need to coat those fibers with vinyl or PVC materials. Once these fibers are coated, then they stay dryer for a very long time.
But it takes that special coating to make those fibers waterproof. The other good news is that while most waterproof fabrics are not that breathable, a waterproof mesh is still very breathable. The holes do not get covered in the coating, so air can get through and keep you comfortable.
Without the coating, both nylon and polyester will resist water up to a certain point and then you will be looking for a change of clothing. Most fabrics will not be waterproof as it is expensive to coat them with the right material.
This is a temperamental fabric to work with. It is nice, strong, durable at times, and looks good when given the right applications. However, it can be hard to work with because of the natural characteristics built into the material.
Handling the fabric is the key and if you don't handle it correctly you may find that it will do things you cannot have taken place if the fabric is going to fit the pattern. Due to those natural characteristics, this material can be hard to cut to size.
Then if you pull too hard the fabric may stretch on you. It is all in the handling of the material that determines if you are going to have an easy or a difficult time working with these mesh fabrics.
Not all mesh materials will react in the same manner. Handle with care may be the best words to guide you when you decide to use mesh fabrics in your sewing project. This is not cotton you are working with and some mesh fibers are very fine and delicate.
Ironing is not a good idea either. You have to watch the heat levels closely when trying to iron synthetic materials.
Yes, it is possible to sew different mesh fabrics. The keys will be found in the needle and thread you use. For most mesh materials, you will need a ballpoint needle. The rounded points slip between the yarns without cutting them. As you know the ballpoint needle is not that sharp.
When you need to cut the fabric, use a rotary cutter and a good cutting mat. Some people suggest a healing mat but any good surface will do. Make sure the cutting blade is very sharp when you make your cuts.
Also, do not pull on the fabric as you cut. This material does stretch very easily and pulling will ruin its shape and size if you are not careful. This is one reason why you should use a rotary cutter over a nice pair of scissors.
The non-pulling advice works when you are trying to get the fabric through the sewing machine. Avoid pulling at all costs. When you do cut, only do one layer at a time. More than one opens you to the risk of ruining the material during the cutting process.
Since mesh is basically plastic, do not iron, and if you try avoid high heat. Stay on the cool settings opting for the lowest one of all.
We already told you to use the ballpoint needle over other options but we have not mentioned anything about the thread. That is coming up now as the thread you use is also a vital part of a successful sewing operation when it comes to mesh fabrics.
Mesh and other stretchy materials require a strong thread to hold them in place. Cotton is good but it is not strong enough to do a proper job. Of course, your results with this type of thread may differ but this is the recommendation.
Instead of cotton, you should use a polyester thread. It is strong, hard to break and the all-purpose variation is okay to use. You don't need to go to metallic thread unless you want to add a little color to the veil, etc.
Then, make sure to loosen the presser foot pressure. You do not have to release a lot of pressure but just enough so that the material won’t stretch on you as it goes under the foot. When you sew, go slow and be careful. Make sure to keep a steady pace so you can avoid puckering and bunching.
Use a zig-zag stitch as that will feed better through your machine and make sewing easier for you. Also, use a shorter stitch length as the closer the stitches, the better the hold.
Plus, using a tear-away or wash-away stabilizer will make your sewing time with this fabric a lot better and easier. To finish the hems and seams a serger is the preferred machine to use. But if you do not own one then turn to your machine that has twin needles on it.
Or a conventional sewing machine that can use a twin needle attachment.
You can use a nice pair of scissors to cut the material but it is not the preferred nor recommended option to use. Scissors are great at cutting but you can run the risk of pulling the fabric as you make your cut and damage the material.
The recommended method is to lay the material over a large flat area, depending on the size of mesh fabric you need, and use a nice cutting mat. Then take your rotary cutter and make your cut.
Don’t forget to mark your lines and measure twice before cutting. Too many mistakes have been made when people do not measure twice. You do need to double-check as it is easy to make a mistake.
Mistakes do happen so do not let yourself get upset. Just make the correction and go from there. The trick in cutting the material is not pulling it out of shape or letting it get hills in it. Keep the material smooth and flat.
Mesh materials do have their place and when used right, they can add a nice decorative touch to any outfit. Plus, they can be layered to make sure your outfit remains modest.
Using mesh can be tricky as it is easy to stretch and ruin. Avoid using any heat when washing and some mesh fabrics can only be hand washed or dry cleaned.